How To Remove Ceramic Tile From Concrete Floors

Flooring upgrade is a viable alternative if you wish to add more aesthetic quality to your space or improve your home's value. However, removing old ceramic tiles from concrete floors is demanding and comes with a heightened risk of extensive damage and health complications.

To remove ceramic tiles too, you will have to deal with quite a lot of dust and noise during this process. Therefore, before beginning, be sure to remove every piece of furniture in the room to create enough space and to ensure that you don't have to deal with another difficult task of clearing dust from the pieces of furniture after you're done removing the tiles.

Here's a breakdown of the essential tools that you'll need when peeling off the ceramic tiles from your floor.

  1. Protective Gear
  2. Dustpan
  3. 1-inch or a ¾ inch masonry chisel
  4. Mastic remover scrubber
  5. Garbage can
  6. A 4-pound sledgehammer
  7. Broom
  8. Old sheets. You can also use a tarp
  9. Shovel
  10. Vacuum


Step 1: Wear Protective Gear

You'll need proper protective gear to shield you from the dust and the shards when removing the old ceramic tiles from your concrete floor. Ideally, you'll need gloves for your hands, a closed-toed pair of shoes, pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a pair of safety glasses.

If you'll be kneeling on the floor, be sure to get some kneepads. Don't forget to wear a dust mask for your protection against the dust.

Step 2: Remove all Pieces of Furniture then Cover Heavy and other Irremovable Objects

Disassemble all the possible fixtures in the room. Ensure that you drain the toilet water supply and remove it too.

Once you're done removing these items, use a tarp or old sheets to cover the things you were unable to remove. These may include the countertops and cabinets. If an HVAC unit is also installed in the room, shut it down and cover well to shield it from layers of dust that can cause damage to inner components like the condenser and others.

Step 3: Locate a Starting Point

This will be the location where you'll be commencing the tile removal job. If you wish to remove ceramic tiles from concrete floors efficiently, ensure that this location is on a spot where there are loose grouts or the tiles are broken.

If the ceramic tiles are still intact, you'll need to start from the point where the tile stops. This could be the original place where you removed the toilet or any spot with some small space left.

Step 4: Loosen the Tiles

To make this process easier, you'll need to work your 1-inch or a ¾ inch masonry chisel below the tiles to loosen them up. To achieve this, hold your chisel at a good angle while targeting the starting spot then use a maul or 4-pound sledgehammer to hit it.

The tile should break off with ease and loosen from the glue. Just be sure to target the right angle. It's also possible that the tile may fail to loosen from the first attempt. If this happens, you may need to use and a chisel point to remove the troublesome tile. If you're removing the ceramic tiles from the concrete floor in a bigger room, an electric tile stripper is a valuable option to consider.

Step 5: Dislodge the Perimeter Tiles

The perimeter tiles are trickier to handle since if you're not very keen with these locations, there's a risk that you could damage the cabinets or walls surrounding the room's edges. To avoid these problems, it would be better to remove your baseboards first so you can create an extra room.

After creating the additional room, use a hammer drill or chisel to peel off the outermost tiles. Be keen to do this at an angle to avoid damaging the concrete floor.

Step 6: Clean up the Mess 

It's essential that you remove all the shards left behind to avoid any risk of injuries or accidents during this process as these shards are usually very sharp. Be careful when handling them with your hands as they can also cut through the protective gloves. For an added safety measure, ensure that you use only the heavy-duty garbage bags as these are the only ones that the shards can't cut through.


Step 7: Clear any Underlayment

Check to see if the tiles were installed with any underlayment and not glued directly with the concrete. If there was any underlayment, clear them first and dispose of them. Check for any exposed nails in this underlayment then remove and dispose of them as well.

Step 8: Clean Space

Once you're done removing the tiles, sweep and dispose of all the dust in the space using a broom a dustpan. Depending on your preference, you can also vacuum up the dirt but not the shards.

Step 9: Remove the Glue/Adhesive

You can get rid of the adhesive using just a chisel to scrape it away. Alternatively, if using the chisel is tedious or doesn't give pleasing results, bring in a hammer drill and use it to scrape off all that thin set until the surface is smooth.

If in your upgrade you want to apply tile on this concrete, apply a small 1/8" layer of latex thin-set mortar on this adhesive layer. This will help you level out the entire floor and make it easy to hold the new tiles.

To make the floor of your space evenly smooth, use a scraper, and if you wanted to inspect the concrete perhaps first, a mastic remover scrubber is a viable tool that can help clear out the adhesives and smoothen the surface.

Step 10: Finish Up

In finishing up, you'll need to clean up this place again. You can use a wet-dry vacuum to clear out all the debris that remain behind and the dust. Update your flooring.

Wrapping Up

If you wish to remove ceramic tiles from the concrete floor with more ease, it demands that you be keen with the process. While to some extent, it's a labor-intensive task, using the right tools will make the whole process a smooth one. Your health comes first anyway, ensure that you wear protective gear always and don't leave any nails or shards behind.

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